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Minister Cigler Kralj grateful to the young generation for their help

Janez Cigler Kralj, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Nuška Čakš Jager, Deputy Head of the Centre for Communicable Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health, Dr Mateja Logar from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses of Ljubljana University Medical Centre and Government spokesperson Jelko Kacin attended the press conference on the current situation of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

From a total of 7,202 tests on Wednesday, 2,488 were positive, a proportion of almost 35 per cent. Some 660 people are in hospitals, of whom 109 require intensive care, and 14 people died.

A total of 163 regular beds are occupied at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses of Ljubljana University Medical Centre, and 35 beds are occupied in intensive care units, explained Dr Logar. The lack of staff at intensive units is evident, which is why workers from other units are being reassigned there, resulting in the formation of mixed groups of colleagues. Ljubljana University Medical Centre will try to obtain additional facilities by upgrading the premises above the renovated emergency unit where an additional 100 beds are to be organised. The staff at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses are aware that pressure on hospitals should cease within about three weeks after the peak in the recorded number of infections is reached. In the meantime, the number of hospitalised patients will still increase.

Dr Čakš Jager presented the epidemiological data. In the education process, the largest number of infections was recorded among secondary school students. The number was much smaller among primary school pupils, while the number in kindergartens was minimal. Among regions with the highest 14-day incidence rate, Gorenjska stands out with 1,626 cases, followed by Koroška and Central Slovenia with 1,015 and 968 cases respectively per 100,000 inhabitants.

The National Institute of Public Health formulated instructions for persons: 

  • who were in contact with a person positive for COVID-19, whereby such a person should avoid all unnecessary contacts with other persons for 14 days from the exposure and should monitor their health condition;
  • with confirmed COVID-19 infection to isolate in their home environment, whereby isolation is defined in the instructions as a measure ordered by the selected general practitioner to a person infected with COVID-19 stating that the person must not leave their home, must limit contacts with other persons and consistently observe recommendations to prevent the spread of the disease;
  • quarantining at home, whereby a healthy person must limit their contacts with other people after a high-risk contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

There are 748 active cases among residents in retirement homes, and two thirds of the 102 retirement homes in Slovenia are dealing with the occurrence of the virus in their midst, reported Minister Cigler Kralj. The examples of establishing red zones in external environments in Škofja Loka and Topolšica also encouraged other providers to offer their capacities. The offer of health resort facilities in thermal spas is notable, as this would also be the most suitable option for the accommodation of residents.

Regarding the workforce, the Minister thanked the young people, especially university students, who lent a hand. As an example of the critical lack of staff, the Minister highlighted Trubar Retirement Home in Loka pri Zidanem Mostu where 39 staff members were infected. He explained that, based on his visit, he was certain that the reason for such a fast spread of the virus in the home lay in the ventilation system, which is why the Ministry sent recommendations to all retirement homes to pay special attention when managing these systems.

Also actively seeking suitable staff is the Employment Service of Slovenia, which is searching for candidates among registered job seekers to fill individual vacancies in retirement homes. The Ministry will award the employees in retirement homes with bonuses for their work as in the first wave of the epidemic.